I spent a relaxing Sunday sitting on our back patio, listening to snippets of four baseball games late in the afternoon, Phillies and Mets on my portable radio, Giants and Brewers on my iPhone, a home-brewed ale in my glass.
During the Phillies game against the Cardinals, play-by-play announcer Scott Franzke referred to the statistics of one of the players during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, to which color commentator Larry Andersen laconically replied, “Last season doesn’t count.”
I agree, LA.
Last season was an aberration. Other than the dimensions of the diamond, nothing about it was normal: the empty seats, the piped-in crowd noise, the doubleheaders with seven-inning games, the ghost runner on second to start extra innings.
The crowds are back, sensibly spaced for social distancing (with a few glaring exceptions). Even though the crowds are small, their reactions are genuine and add significantly to the viewer and listener experience on television and radio broadcasts, respectively.
I caught relatively few game broadcasts last year, and that lack of authentic crowd reaction was a driving factor in my staying away.
I’ll be considered fully vaccinated next week, but I’m not quite comfortable mingling in a crowd while COVID continues to spread. I am pointing toward catching a Mariners’ game in Seattle on a tentatively planned family trip, but I still need to put reluctance to get on an airplane behind me.
For now, I’ll stick to games on the radio and TV, grateful that the crowds are real and looking forward to the day when I’ll be among them again.